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5 Quotes From Republican Leaders Reflecting on the Voting Rights Act of 1965

By    |   Thursday, 11 Feb 2016 07:56 PM

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act, which sought to remove all remaining barriers from African-Americans' (and, eventually, other minorities) efforts to vote.

The Democrat Johnson was quoted as saying, “Today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield.”

Republicans over the years have also voiced their opinions about the landmark piece of legislation, particularly regarding the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down sections 4 and 5 of the act.

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Here are five quotes from Republican leaders as they pertain to the Voting Rights Act’s history:

1. Herman Cain, former presidential candidate

"The Democrats co-opted the credit for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But if you go back and look at the history, a larger percentage of Republicans voted for that than did Democrats. But a Democrat president signed it, so they co-opted credit for having passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
GQ interview, November 2011

2. Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas

“The formula needs to be updated to reflect the success of Section 5 in the Voting Rights Act. ... Everybody in the country ought to be treated the same. ... But it will be fascinating to see."
The Huffington Post, March 2013

3. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi

"I do have grave questions about jurisdictions forever having to remain in the penalty box regardless of recent progress. ... I can tell you there’s racism all over the country ... but I don’t think there is racism to the extent that one state should be treated differently in terms of amendment — it’s voting rights. I don’t think there is racism in legislative bodies or city councils or county councils that will justify an entirely different procedure for making changes in laws affecting elections. ... I think that time is over ... 1965 — far different era than 2013."
The Huffington Post, March 2013

4. Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee chair

"Our party has always had a strong view on this issue. We fought very hard in the '60s to get the civil rights bill passed as well as the voting rights bill."
"This Week," May 2010

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5. Ronald Reagan, former U.S. president

“To protect all our citizens, I believe the Voting Rights Act should and must be extended. It should be extended for 10 years. ... As a matter of fairness, I believe that States and localities which have respected the right to vote and have fully complied with the act should be afforded an opportunity to ‘bail out’ from the special provisions of the act. Toward that end, I will support amendments which incorporate reasonable ‘bail out’ provisions for States and other political subdivisions.”
– November 1981 statement

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In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act, which sought to remove all remaining barriers from African-Americans' (and, eventually, other minorities) efforts to vote.
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Thursday, 11 Feb 2016 07:56 PM
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